The raindrops on your windshield this morning come from a small low pressure system in the Gulf which will produce thunderstorms throughout the day. However, according to the National Hurrincane Center, there’s nearly 0 percent of the system becoming a tropical storm. There is another low pressure system off the coast of the northern Yucatan peninsula which has a moderate possibility of becoming a tropical cyclone.
The two systems combined continue to keep oil skimming efforts idled in the Gulf of Mexico, and without the fleet of boats siphoning oil, the slick has moved into coastal waters. Tar balls have washed up in Lake Pontchartrain for the first time, on the shores of Treasure Island, near Slidell. Tar balls have also been found along the Bolivar Peninsula, near Galveston, Texas.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has also reported 12-mile wide streamers of oil located 20 miles south of Marsh Island. The oil has closed fisheries from St. Bernard Parish to Vermilion Parish. To date, no oil has been reported inside Vermilion Bay.
In an effort to track the slick more closely and direct skimming boats more precisely, the U.S. Navy is sending a blimp to the Gulf. Using less fuel than helicopters, the blimp will be able to remain aloft longer and survey a wider area. Look for that big silver fish up in the sky on Tuesday.
For techies, there’s a fascinating story in the New York Times about the technical feat of drilling the relief well to make a pinpoint intersection into the steel casing pipe of the gushing well. The target is a seven inch diameter pipe, three miles beneath the surface of the gulf.
Last week, I posted a link to a website, lacoastpost, run by coastal scientist Len Bahr, advisor to four Louisiana governors with 18 years of policy experience in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities. It generated some pretty vituperative comments. Bahr is vehemently against the sand berm project. In an editorial, posted in the Times-Picayune yesterday, Bahr outlines the nine reasons he finds the sand bars to be a dubious solution to keeping the oil offshore.
The Times Picayune also has a story comparing the cleanup efforts of the Deepwater Horizon spill with the 1979 Ixtoc I oil spill in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. The article goes on to explore the recovery of marine life in the Gulf in the years following the spill. The good news is there was a full recovery of wildlife. The tropical conditions of the Gulf of Mexico accelerated the break up of the oil slick and the rebound of wildlife. The bad news is that the shrimpers and fishermen who lived in the town of Ciudad del Carmen, the nearest community to the spill, couldn’t survive the loss of work. Ciudad del Carmen is no longer a quaint fishing village. What saved the town and grew its economy? The burgeoning oil business.
“The calm fishing village that existed no longer did,” Daniel Cantarell, the son and grandson of shrimpers, told the TP. “When there ceased to be shrimp, God gave us oil.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.